By Stephanie Fagin – November 26, 2014
During National Adoption Awareness Month, I have brought you numerous guest bloggers, highlighting many parts of the adoption journey. Today, I bring you one adoptive mother’s story about many failed attempts and a very long wait before she and her beautiful daughter were brought together. I met Stephanie at an adoption seminar at an agency we both used. Realizing we were both adopting on our own quickly connected us. I’m thrilled Stephanie has decided to share her story, as she shares struggles many people endure in this adventure called adoption. I hope you’ve been able to take something valuable away from each of my guests stories, and I welcome your comments below.

The gift of waiting over a decade to become a mother is only clear once you are a mother. For those who are still waiting, know all too well, that it can be very painful and often times filled with multiple losses.

My journey started with my vision that I would be a stay-at-home mom with five kids.

My journey ended with adopting on my own at the age of 43.

A lot of stuff happened in the middle.

I did marry in my early 30’s and when we decided to start building our family, it turns out it wasn’t an easy process. I went through a couple of years of fertility treatments, including 2 rounds of IVF (in vitro fertilization). I have a really awesome picture of my Fallopian tubes clouded in endometriosis, by the way.

My body appeared to have a couple other challenges as well. The marriage dissolved, and perhaps one of the purposes of that union was to obtain some knowledge about my biology, as I believe that knowledge served me later.

While I wasn’t put in the “I will be a stay-at-home mom with five kids” line, I was put in the “I will have a fulfilling, bountiful career” line. Over the next five years, this funded some incredible travel around the world including three weeks in Africa, which I will never forget. I continued to scratch my mother itch over this time and believed I may get married again.

This did not happen.

The theme in my head was that kids deserve to have two parents.

My dad primarily raised my sisters and me and while I did have a stable, loving, safe environment to grow up in, sprinkled with daily humor, my dad is just not a woman. I don’t think he would take offense to that because he is pretty clear he is a dude.

While my chick influence didn’t come from the one person you’d expect it to, God took care of that by sending me about two dozen other women to fill that role. I share this because it took some time to get comfortable with the idea of adopting on my own…until I became convinced that this was my path.

I chose an adoption agency in Chicago to work with and was picked by a birth mom nearly six months later. I spoke to her a number of times and met her.

My agency was clear with me that domestic adoptions can fall through. They told me NOT to have a shower, to temper my expectations, and not to tell everybody I know. (sshhhh…don’t tell my agency…my besties had a shower for me)

IMPOSSIBLE, I say. I have waited forever for this to happen and I’m supposed to keep it buttoned up? How?

You can’t.

Then it fell through.

Over the next 12 months, I was chosen two more times and again, both of those fell through.

Given I had been chosen three times in a relatively short time period, by preconceived adoption standards, I thought my time was right around the corner.

Another year and a half passed in silence. I started to question whether I was supposed to be a mom at all.

I decided to get involved with a program called Safe Families, which provides families in crisis a respite so they can get the tools they need to parent, while providing a safe place for their child to live without fear of losing custody. I had the privilege of having two children live with me. One was a teenager, who I fell in love with during the two months I housed her. She was supposed to be with me for the semester but her teenager behavior got her booted from mi casa earlier than expected.

The other was a five-year-old who I only had for two weeks. That beautiful little five-year-old girl was the sign I needed to get more aggressive in my search. I loved trying to meet her needs while she was with me. It really stung when she had to leave, but now I know, she was sent to me as a sign to get my ass in gear.

Then I hired an adoption consultant and broadened my search outside the state and with multiple agencies.

After additional fees spent on agency applications, updating my home study, developing a more vulnerable profile for birth parents to review of me, getting fingerprinted again and having to show everyone in the world the value of my 401k plan, I was chosen about three months later. The birth mom told me she felt compelled to place her daughter with a single mother. It makes me water up every time I think of that.

Three weeks later, I left Chicago in order to spend a few days with the expectant mother and be present at the birth. I was holding her left leg during delivery, and Evelyn came out of the womb facing me. It was the most extraordinary moment of my life.

stephanie-fagin-familyI do believe waiting is a gift. I don’t believe I would have the same level of gratitude if motherhood had come easily and quickly to me.

I have had some tough days, having chosen to do this on my own, but you will rarely hear me complain because I know how special it is that I have arrived in this place.

I was getting my nails done once and overheard this young woman on the phone complaining and complaining and complaining about her pregnancy. She looked to be about ten minutes pregnant. The story I made up about her was that her and her husband decided it was time to get pregnant, they looked at each other, happened to time sex during ovulation (go through fertility treatment if you would like to become overly educated on ovulation) and immediately announced their good news. Given how she was speaking, I couldn’t imagine she did any waiting. (I realize her story could actually have been that she was retching up her skull every morning in the toilet and was quite ill, but when I make up stories I do so in a manner that suits the point I am trying to make.) For those of you who are still waiting, I send you much love and comfort as you navigate this journey. It is not for ninnies.

My intention for you is that there is a warm neck out there waiting for you. I won’t be able to adequately describe how much I love Evelyn’s neck. I imagine trying to nuzzle in there when she is 14 with her eyes rolled and cast to the back of her head and stretching like a crane to get away from me. It won’t stop me.

Stephanie Fagin is the mother of Evelyn, who is nearly 2 years old. During the day, she is an insurance executive. Stephanie used to play golf, run and was an avid cyclist. Since becoming a mom, she crams in any workout she can during her lunch hour. Originally from St. Louis, she has lived in Chicago for the past fifteen years and now calls it her home.


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